Virgin StartUp of the Week: Figgins

Robert and Sarah Lloyd Williams are the brains behind Figgins, a gift and homeware shop that sells quirky and unique items to brighten up any abode. From bunting, to gift cards, to kitchen accessories - they've got it covered. Sarah and Robert are supported through StartUp Loans delivery partner Business West. 

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? Please answer the questions below, keeping each answer to five sentences max.

Richard B in lift

Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does

Figgins is a quirky gift and homewares shop. We source items that are inspired, original and inventive. We're so passionate about this that we have made it our - motto it's inscribed on our window! We just love finding products that make people look twice and that are affordable. They're designer gifts to suit all pockets.

Floor 1 to 2 – Where are you based?

We're based in beautiful Frome, a town that is very special to us as we live right in the very centre and absolutely love it here. There is nothing better than being able to step out of your front door and walk to work! Frome is a town with a growing reputation for its range of independent shops, and we're delighted to be a part of that trend.

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

We're starting with a bricks and mortar shop, and then adding a website alongside this in around 6 months. We wholesale our goods from many suppliers and ensure that our goods are ethically produced and fairly traded. We use suppliers that ensure exclusivity, in order to make sure we stand out from our competitors. Our target customers were young professionals, but we have found since we opened that we are appealing to a broad range of clientele - there's something in Figgins for everyone.

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

Frome has several independent gift traders and we took our time looking at theirs to make sure that we were going to be offering something different - which we do. We see the fact that there are several shops here all with their own distinct personality when it comes to what they sell and how they display it as an advantage, as Frome will become - and is becoming - a destination shopping area for the discerning gift buyer.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

Our USP is our personal service. We make sure that we chat to our customer to learn a bit more about them, and to see if we're selling the items they're looking for.  We make sure there is always something new to see here, and that the prices are pleasing. We relish the comments that we hear every day, such as "This is different!" And we'll strive to remain different.

Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

I was a shop owner for a long time a few years ago and then had a long break and did something completely different. I missed retail very much and when I moved to Frome in 2011 I realised retail was something I wanted to go back to, and Frome was where I wanted to do it. I identified a gap in the market for a shop like ours which was a little bit unusual. Then it was just a question of waiting for the right property to come up, which took a little longer than I would have liked - but it was worth waiting for!

Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?

We received £9000 in total.

Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

The funding had been used to buy lots of lovely stock to get our business off the ground, and we are in the process of converting a stock room at the back into extra retail space and a small gallery for local artists to display and sell their art.

Floor 8 to 9 - What's your workspace like?

 figgins workplace

Floor 9 to 10 - Who's your Virgin StartUp mentor?

Our mentor is Isla Baliszewska who was fantastic at helping us put our business plan together, pointing out lots of things we hadn't thought of, and making sure our strategy and plans were sound.

Floor 10 to 11 - Where will you be in 12 months?

After a great start at Christmas we're hoping to continue growing this shop, reaching out to more customers and cultivating more regular clients. We'll be starting a website in the next few months to promote the business and sell items online and we're just launching a 'Friends of Figgins' loyalty card. In the future we would like to open another shop in a nearby town, but we're focussing on making this one great first.